I feel bad for LinkedIn. I think it’s one of the least understood tools and platforms in the modern digital landscape. Heck, maybe I’m using it wrong, too. But I want to talk you through what I see as the value and opportunity for employing LinkedIn for your business pursuits.
LinkedIn is a talent and skills discovery platform. When you build your profile, the intent of that action is that people will review that profile, learn what you know and your capabilities and your experiences.
Beyond the profile, LinkedIn invites you to post and share information. Links, articles, and now most valuably, video.
I feel like most people don’t fully understand the intent of the opportunity to share. This is a talent and skills discovery platform. If I share a link to an article about how funny Wendy’s is on their Twitter profile, what am I telling a potential business connection? At best, I’m telling you what I find interesting. At most, I’m flooding your stream with non-important information.
So what should you share?
Share information that highlights your areas of professional interest. Share information that highlights your capabilities. Share information that better elaborates on your offerings. Light up the beacon of “what you do to serve others.”
The goal of posting and sharing is to extend the story of your capabilities so that people might assess their business reasons for connecting with you. That should be the guidepost for what you share.
My connection philosophy has changed immensely over the last several years. I might be wrong. In the past, I used to connect with anyone. Why not? Now, I have a slightly different criteria:
- I connect with professionals I hope to do business with – prospects
- I connect with professionals I know I can help because I know their capabilities well enough to refer them – allies
- I connect with professionals I find aligned with my intellectual pursuits – mentors
That’s my criteria. Yours might be different.
I almost never connect with my peers beyond friends. If you’re doing what I do, I don’t see much need to connect on LinkedIn. I’m there to find business. I’m there to find clients and customers and people to serve. I’m not there to say, “Hey, let’s all agree on things.” I’ve built my career NOT doing what my peers do. It’s no judgment on you. You’re a peer. Good for you. I hope you build your business. But what do you think the value of connecting with me will be?
I do follow some peers. I love seeing what they’re interested in talking about. I don’t need them to be linked to follow them. You might also do that.
I feel that people get emotional around social networks. They equate “connection” in a piece of software with value judgments. If I don’t link with you, it must mean I don’t like you or value you professionally. That’s the perception some people seem to have.
That’s important for people to examine in themselves. If a piece of software is how you’re determining your self-worth, or if YOUR perception of how you THINK I value you is driving your self-worth, that’s probably an issue worth considering.
LinkedIn is just software. Use it or don’t and look for value or don’t. Look for a way to make it work for you because I feel it’s pretty darned valuable. Just try your best not to stumble in there and expect it to yield anything.
And if ever you need help or need to reach me directly, just email me: [email protected]